According to Deborah Bradway, music has power over the body, a language that possesses an inherent nature to make us feel. There is something about the healing power of music that soothes our soul and in one way or another; we know this because we have felt it.
Do you remember having a bad day but noticing your feet dance easily with the beat when your favorite jam comes up on the radio? Or that time when you felt excited for the day but suddenly feel downcast when your heartbreak song plays somewhere? This is how powerful music is, though we may not be able to realize it immediately.
What Is Music Therapy?
Also known as sound therapy, it involves various psychological approaches such as psychodynamic, behavioral, and humanistic to invoke positive responses on the patients. “The formal definition of music therapy is as ‘a professional healthcare discipline that uses music and music-based experiences to target non-musical treatment goals in educational and healthcare settings,'” according to Kimberly Sena Moore, a board-certified music therapist.
Music therapy comes in when verbal expression becomes very difficult to carry out. More so, music makes way for words to be spoken when things get heavy and serious. It promotes emotional balance among the patients and allows them to be comfortable with their feelings and thoughts.
What are the interventions used in Music Therapy?
Music therapy works through various platforms. First is concerning a song’s lyrics. The patient and therapist read through the lyrics of a song. Afterward, the patient is encouraged to give insight as to how he felt about the words. This process is a springboard for further discussion as to how the patient perceives life in general and goes through its daily struggles.
Aside from just looking at the lyrics, the patient can be made to listen to songs. Sometimes, the therapist can choose music that lacks words and only focus on the melody or the beat. By doing this, the therapist is allowing music alone to influence the patient’s mood. Accordingly, music does its job by calming the soul and relaxing the mood, thereby ushering the patient to a tranquil atmosphere.
Finally, both patient and therapist can make the music themselves. Patients experience a feeling of emotional liberation and heightened ability to socialize when they express themselves through singing or playing instruments. To take it a step further, some patients are also encouraged to write songs. It is a compelling process of reaffirmation of the patient’s self-worth, giving him a sense of control, purpose, and fulfillment.
What Types Of Illnesses Can Music Therapy Heal?
“Actually I use a number of things to cope with stress. I have been running to music for 30 years and treasure it as a stress-reducing gift,” says Suzanne B. Phillips, Psy.D, ABPP.
The therapeutic effect of music is something that has not only been told by experience. It is something that is scientifically proven through evidence. In one study, when patients were made to listen to music, they have shown higher levels of salivary immunoglobulin A, a crucial antibody that helps the body fight cancer. In addition, levels of cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone, also decreased.
In other cases, music has been found to help enhance the mental functions of patients with cognitive diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Dementia. Music aids in the reduction of feelings of aggression and agitation among patients, thereby improving their cooperation with regular daily tasks.
Still, for patients experiencing bouts of depression and anxiety, music has been proven to uplift a depressed mood. Physically, this manifests in the stabilization of heart rate, manageable respiratory rate, and normalized blood pressure. It also improves the quality of sleep, thereby helping patients with depression to deal with insomnia and restlessness that comes with it.
“Dr. Joke Bradt PhD, MT-BC, a music therapist, said about a study she and her team conducted pertaining to music therapy, “This review shows encouraging results for the effects of music therapy in stroke patients. As most of the studies we looked at used rhythm-based methods, we suggest that rhythm may be a primary factor in music therapy approaches to treating stroke.”
The beautiful thing about music therapy is it is very relatable. Music is close to our hearts because it accompanies us through every stage of life. From the young kids that we once were up to the grownups that we are now, we can always think of a song that captures our feelings and thoughts. That is how powerful music can be in influencing our lives, and this is the exact reason why it works as therapy. Music pulls us back to what is familiar, comfortable, real, and happy.